The astecs in Mexico cultivated the kastuba (poinsettia), long before the first Europeans settled in the US. It wasn't until 1825 that the Mexican Ambassador to the US, Joel Robert Poinsettia, introduced the kastuba to the US. Since then, this plant is present as a Christmas plant. Caring for your chestnut during the holiday season is easy, as it requires very little attention when it blooms. But caring for the chestnut all year round and making it bloom again the following December is another story. Here's how to do both.
Part 1 of 3: Choosing Your Kastuba
Step 1. Choose plants that look healthy
A healthy castorum will have dark green leaves with protective sheaths or bracts (these are red leaves that turn and look like flower petals). There should be no signs of dryness or wilting and no fallen or yellowed leaves.
Step 2. Observe the condition of the plant
Plants should look full and attractive and not crowded among other plants, as this can cause the protective leaves to fall prematurely. The height should be two and a half times the diameter of the pot.
Step 3. Check the leaves and soil
Check the soil for moisture: if the soil is very wet, but the plant looks wilted, this could be an indication of root rot. Then look under the leaves to check for insects such as aphids and whiteflies. Do not choose plants with speckled and yellow leaves.
Step 4. Check for true flowers
The true flowers of the kastuba plant can be found at the base of the red protective leaves. The flowers look like small, fresh buds with red or green tips. If there is a layer of yellow pollen covering the flowers, this means the plant is older and will not last long.
Step 5. Avoid buying kastuba wrapped in paper or plastic
It could be that this plant has been on display for a long time. If that were true, the leaves might turn yellow and fall sooner than expected.
Step 6. Carefully bring the plant into the house
It is important that you cover or cover the chestnut before bringing it home, if the outside temperature is lower than 10 degrees Celsius.
- If the chestnut is exposed to low temperatures outside for only a few minutes, the plant can freeze or even freeze, causing the leaves to wither and fall.
- The garden supply store where you purchased the kastuba should be able to provide some kind of protective cover for your return trip.
- Make sure you quickly remove the protective cover when you get home, otherwise it can cause damage to the plants.
Part 2 of 3: Caring for Your Kastuba
Step 1. Choose a suitable location for the mussels
Place the chestnut plant in a location that receives at least six hours of indirect sunlight a day.
- Placing it near a sunny east or west window is an ideal move.
- Do not let the leaves touch the cold window pane as this can cause the leaves to freeze and fall.
Step 2. Maintain proper temperature
The ideal temperature for the mussels is not to reach above 21 degrees Celsius during the day or not drop below 18 degrees Celsius at night.
- This is important to maintain the bright red color of the protective leaves.
- You should also avoid exposing the mussels to cold winds, or to dry heat from radiators, electrical appliances or fire.
- Remember that temperatures below 10 degrees Celsius will chill the plant and cause severe damage, exposure to freezing air will kill the plant.
Step 3. Water the chestnut if needed
Kastubas like soil that is moist but not soggy, so you should water the chestnut when the soil surface feels dry to the touch. Water the plant until you see water starting to come out of the hole in the bottom of the pot.
- After 10 minutes, remove excess water from the saucer under the pot. If the plant is left submerged, the soil will become too wet, and will not contain enough air, causing root rot and other diseases.
- If the plant is left without water for too long, the leaves will begin to wither and dry out. To prevent this, make sure you check the soil regularly. When the leaves begin to wilt, water the plant immediately, then water a second time five minutes later.
Step 4. Fertilize your kastuba plants after the holidays
Depending on when you bought the chestnut plant, there's no need to fertilize any time before the holidays (Christmas and New Year's), while it's still blooming. You can usually wait until you have had the plant for 6 to 8 weeks before needing to fertilize.
- Of course, if you don't plan on keeping the chestnut there's no point in fertilizing it. Many people find it easier to buy a new plant each year, than to care for one plant all year round.
- However, if you plan to keep your chestnuts, you can use an all-purpose, water-soluble fertilizer for indoor plants, fertilizing them in early January. Use according to the fertilizer manufacturer's instructions.
- The fertilizer will take care of the green leaves and encourage new growth.
Part 3 of 3: Making Your Kastuba Flower Again
Step 1. Take responsibility for caring for your kastuba
It is possible to keep your chestnut plant and make it bloom again next year. However this requires year-round care that must be maintained closely, otherwise the plant will fail to flower again.
Step 2. Follow the watering schedule until April
After the holidays, you can continue to stick to the watering schedule as before: watering the plants when the soil is dry to the touch. Continue to give kastuba fertilizer every 6 to 8 weeks in the form of all-purpose fertilizer for plants in the house.
Step 3. Allow the plant to dry
As April comes in, you should stop watering the chestnut and let it dry. But you can't let it dry out too much until the stems start to shrivel. At this time, store the plant in a cool, windy place, with a temperature of around 15 degrees Celsius.
Step 4. Cut the stalks
In late spring, when the protective leaves turn a muddy green color, it's time to cut the stalks. Cut about 20 cm long, although the size will vary slightly, depending on the size and shape of the plant. You can start watering the plant again, using the same procedure as before.
Step 5. Replace the plant pot if necessary
If the plant looks cramped in the pot, move it to a new pot about 5 to 10 cm larger. Use commercial potting soil with a high percentage of peat.
Step 6. Move the kastuba outdoors
During the summer months, you can move the chestnut outdoors (still in the pot). Place it in a slightly shady area. Continue to water regularly and fertilize.
Step 7. In August, prune the new shoots
When August comes in, you can cut or pinch off new shoots about 2.5 cm long, leaving only three or four leaves 2.5 cm long. Fertilize again.
Step 8. Move the kastuba back into the room
In early September (or before the first frost) move the chestnut back indoors. Place it near a window that receives lots of indirect natural sunlight. Continue to water as before, and fertilize every two weeks.
Step 9. Follow the proper flower growing procedure
Kastuba is a photoperiod plant, which means the flowering and flowering schedule is determined by the amount of light it receives in a day. So in order for your plants to flower at Christmas time, you'll need to limit your exposure to light in the months leading up to the holiday.
- From October 1 onwards, keep the chestnut in complete darkness for 14 hours a night, from 6pm to 8am. Move the plant to a dark room or cover the plant with a box. Remember that exposure to artificial light alone can delay or delay the flowering process.
- Take the plant out of the dark during the day, as it still needs about 6 to 8 hours of daylight a day. Try to keep the temperature between 15 and 21 degrees Celsius and continue watering and fertilizing as usual.
- Follow this procedure for about 10 weeks until the chestnut blooms again and a bright red color appears on the protective leaves. Move the chestnut back to a sun-exposed area and follow the care procedures described above!
- If you are replanting your chestnut, do so in a sterile growing medium that drains well but can also hold water and nutrients so they don't wash away too quickly. Use fertile, humus and acidic soil, with a pH of 5.5
- Kastuba was previously believed to be poisonous, but according to the University of Florida Extension Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, a recent study disproved that theory. However, no part of the plant is edible.
- Protect the kastuba from insects and disease. Examine the mussel for common insects such as the hornbill caterpillar, aphids, mealybugs, scales, whiteflies, and mites.
- Kastuba contains white gum from latex, which can irritate the skin of people who are allergic to latex.
- Grab the kastuba horn caterpillar with your finger and crush it. Wash the leaves with mild soap and water or rinse with rubbing alcohol to prevent nuisance by other insects. For serious attacks, chemical treatment may be necessary.
- Keep an eye out for fungal diseases such as kastuba scab, which can be recognized by the appearance of white, yellow or brown circles on the leaves. The fungus will control the entire branch or plant if left alone. Remove the infected area immediately to prevent further transmission.
- Root rot is another fungal disease that needs to be watched out for. Symptoms include yellowing of the leaves and falling off. Unfortunately, when the symptoms are visible, it means the disease is severe and the plant will no longer be able to be saved.